With holiday shopping underway, local peace advocates are delivering a message against violence in video games and children’s toys.
Drivers going past the corner of Wolf Road and Central Ave. in Colonie may have noticed the group wearing their signature red last weekend on Saturday, Dec. 6. The Albany chapter of Grannies for Peace, a faction of Woman Against War, held its holiday vigil in protest of violent scenarios in video games and war toys.
“We are challenging parents and grandparents to take a stand against violence. War is not a game. War toys encourage youngsters to act out violence and war as a way to resolve programs and exert powers,” said grandmother Mabel Leon in a released statement.
One of the goals of Grannies for Peace is to raise public awareness of certain issues, and each year, the group determines a topic to focus on. For 2015, the group decided to focus on violence in video games after researching games and seeing violent themes throughout many of them. Aumand said the group hopes to reframe the conversation concerning the topic.
“There’s a lot of conversation that ends up dead-ended,” said Aumand. The violent games present children with “horrific violence and mayhem,” which contributes to being desensitized to violence, Aumand said. The demonstration outside of Colonie Center was the group’s first demonstration about the idea.
Grannies for Peace later moved inside, walking the mall the with the signs, singing Christmas carols, and being followed by a security guard to make sure things didn’t get out of hand. However, Aumand said that most of the reactions the grannies received were positive. Drivers nodded and waved to them in support. Shoppers paused at the signs and agreed that more attention should be given to the issue.
Interest in the subject particularly surged when a tech magazine released an article listing the top 10 most popular video games for the season. While a game like Minecraft, where players build their own worlds, was listed, the majority of the games depicted violence, according to Aumand.
“Nine of them depended on absolute violence and mayhem for the scenario of the game,” Aumand said. “It’s not just a U.S. problem. Video games, the sale and profit from video games, is more than the entire music and movie profit. It’s a global issue. One of the reasons violence is such a common scenario is that it doesn’t require a lot of language.”
Within the next year, Grannies for Peace hopes to bring in guest speakers to expand the conversation about the violent games. Aumand said the group has partnered with RPI and the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy to expand awareness.
Though to become aware, it will take a shift in mentality for a majority of people to realize the issue with violent video games, according to Aumand.
As grandmothers and older women, Aumand said that most of the women in the group were able to see the problem with the violence because of the generational gap. Where younger people today have grown up with the games, Aumand’s generation is able to take a step back from the games’ entertainment value.
As a grandmother, Aumand said she has an obligation to help raise awareness for such issues. She said that she, like other members of Grannies for Peace, is concerned for the future of her grandchildren with such video games in popular demand.
“I believe that as a grandparent, as a citizen, as someone who is concerned about the wellbeing of those I love, because we all profoundly love our children, that I have an obligation when I see the direction that society is taking, that we seem to choose, that leads to violence and more violence,” she said.